Following the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) response to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) report, Pax Christi International’s sections and member organizations from around the world joined together in releasing a letter of support for LCWR. Sr. Josie Chrosniak, HM, National Council Chairperson, and Sr. Patricia Chappell, SNDdeN, Executive Director, signed the letter on behalf of Pax Christi USA. The letter was circulated, at Sr. Patty’s request, to PCUSA regional leadership with an invitation to also sign. The letter was released this week. As Pax Christi International Co-Presidents Marie Dennis and Bishop Kevin Dowling wrote, “In the United States and in many other corners of the world, women religious have been at the heart of Pax Christi’s work for peace. Their faithful presence, deep theological grounding and remarkable leadership have made an extraordinary contribution to our movement.” Here is the letter:

LCWR President accepts award from Pax Christi USA
Sr. Marlene Weisenbeck, FSPA, President of LCWR, receiving the Eileen Egan Award on behalf of LCWR at Pax Christi USA’s 2010 National Conference in Chicago. (Photo by John Zokovitch)

The Holy See’s recent disciplinary action against the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) has greatly saddened members of Pax Christi International around the world. Women religious in the United States have been deeply committed to promoting the peace of Christ. They are at the heart of our movement, proclaiming with clarity and love the possibility of a world without war, a future beyond dehumanizing violence.

The Sisters’ ministries to people on the margins of our world is often lived out in situations of immense violence. We have seen their compassion in local neighbourhoods across the United States; in war-torn communities of South Sudan, El Salvador, Cambodia and beyond; in situations of repression and horrific human rights violations. We have seen them respond with wisdom and courage to trafficked women and children; to domestic violence; to rape as a weapon of war; to torture and abuse in prisons on every continent; to people uprooted by war or poverty.

U.S. women religious are making peace inside and outside centres of power. Locally, nationally and internationally, they are tireless advocates for the dignity of human life and the protection of the whole earth community. Their commitment to accompany those who have been discarded and forgotten; to listen with care to their stories; to act with compassion; and to address the roots of injustice and violence in the light of the Gospel make the Sisters immensely credible in the public arena among people of faith and good will. Network, founded by Catholic Sisters 40 years ago, gives daily witness to that credibility. LCWR gives it careful, collective expres­sion.

Pax Christi International has also been enriched by the deep spirituality and wise theological insights of U.S. women religious. These Sisters and other Catho­lic women, with excellent theological training and rich experience in grass­roots communities dealing with terrible violence, are helping to articulate a new theology of Catholic peace-building.

To this great Gospel wit­ness of U.S. women reli­gious, we believe that LCWR has made a faithful and ex­tremely valuable contribution. Catholic women everywhere are grateful to these mature Catholic women leaders. Pax Christi International women and men, lay people, religious, priests and bish­ops around the world hold them in the highest re­gard. We believe that their experi­ence of faithful discipleship has much to offer the institutional Catholic Church in terms of building right relationships, inclusive process, respectful dialogue, theological reflection and the ability to honour the gift of diversity.

We pray that, rather than scrutiny, humiliation and rep­rimand, the Holy See will give the LCWR and women’s reli­gious communities in the United States the respect and grati­tude they so richly deserve. For this, Pax Christi International members around the world will be praying.

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28 thoughts on “STATEMENT: Pax Christi issues letter of support for LCWR

  1. I do not look to the Vatican for an example of living the Good News of Jesus. I was taught be and hold as my model the Sisters in my life, especially the Sisters who work at the 8th Day Center for Justice in Chicago. I stand with you as a ARCWP.

  2. THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU, PAX CHRISTI, FOR SUPPORTING THE TRUE ‘SERVANTS’ AMONG US ! It is my deepest hope, and expectation, that universal, committed response on this occasion will bear
    delicious fruit, well beyond imagination . . . perhaps even the birth of a
    new ‘loving beyond belief’ movement in which women and men of ALL
    traditions and NO traditions at all may finally begin to come together in a
    growing community of true bearing witness to suffering (in themselves and all others) and the ‘radical acceptance’ of ALL in the spirit of ‘loving beyond
    belief’ and barriers of any kind. These women KNOW THE WORK – they walk before us are among the TRUE LEADERS. May they and others be given the courage and means necessary to grow this WORK beyond our present imaginations. And may PAX CHRISTI give all the energy YOU can
    to support and help drive whatever ‘movement’ this universal energy offers us all.



  3. Thank you for your support and for sending this to me, Gratefully yours. Sister Gretchen Reintjes, CSJ.57 years in religious life..

  4. Most Religious Committees in the US are made of predominently elderly workers in the Schools, Hospitals, social systems…so what they (we) do now is more like what we did when our communities were formed, face to face contact with the marginal, the immigrant and homeless. What did the gospel to that? I would advise the Bishops to walk around their diocese without the red garments,in the simple dress of ordinary man and get acquainted with people Jesus said: The least. Sirs|: that’s WHAT HE MEANT WHEN HE SAID “I WILL BE WITH YOU ALWAYS & WHATEVER YOU DO TO THEM YOU DO TO ME”

  5. Thank you so much for expressing so beautifully what I hold in my heart. I am praying with you that our sisters “receive the respect and gratitude they so richly deserve”.

  6. I am fully behind LCWR and the Pax Christi’s statement. It just shows how out of touch and contrary to Jesus’ message the Vatican is. Jesus Christ would never had done what the Vatican did. Shame on those bishops and cardinals and other clergy who call themselves Christ’s disciples on earth, and who have humiliated the nuns, whose unselfish commitment to the Lord’s work has no equal.

    1. This is a problem. When you lead people away from the Vatican, you should hang your head in shame if you are Catholic. Folks, the Holy Spirit was given to one Church and the keys to One person. To speak of the Vatican in this way, and publically to boot, is a grave sin. The Vatican, on the contrary follows Jesus’ message by sheparding the Church. Jesus did not start a democracy.

      1. Criticism of the Pope and of the Vatican is a long standing tradition in the Catholic Church. It started with Christ when He said to Peter “Get thee behind me satin….” Later Paul had to criticize Peter for telling others not to eat meat that had been part of the sacrifice to pagan gods and then going ahead and eating it himself. Then there was Catherine of Sienna who told the Pope in Avingnon that he needed to slip on his slippers and slip back to Rome where he belonged. The Vatican is not without its faults and we who are the Body of Christ need to correct them when the step out of line. We are the Church, God’s holy people.

  7. As a member of Pax Christi & Just Faith, I totally agree with the statement. I know so many great women religious and admire their work & commitment to social justice & peace throughout the world. God bless them.
    Monica Garofalo

  8. Dear Pax Christi, thank you for your principled and courageous stand in support of the nuns. Margaret Kingsbury, Lansing, MI

  9. Thanks to an illogical response from PC, now realize that Vatican has chastised all women religious and all religious women. Thanks for the obfuscation.

  10. Thank you, Pax Christi, for your gracious acknowledgement of women religious in the United States. Your support means a lot.

  11. I share your thoughts about the sisters completely. Were it not for them and their work, I would find it much more difficult to remain in the Catholic Church as it manifests itself through the hierarchy today.
    Louise Olson
    Estes Park, Colorado

  12. Please don’ compromise my allegiance to Pax Christi by forcing your disdain for hierarchical paternalism down my parched, misandrist-abused throat! Jesus subjected His Will to the Father before undertaking His Passion and Death on the Cross. Like-it-or-not He established His Church on fisherman-Peter’s shoulders. Champions-of-peace many vowed-sisters may be. So be inspired. Fine. Pope and/or bishop they are not. Get over it.

  13. Religious Woman have been, and still remain the heart of our CHurch. They take seriously and live sacredly the Gospel they have grown to understand.

  14. Just to hear how Pax Christi regards it’s experience of these women in the field moves me deeply. I believe that the hierarchy should keep in mind with fear and trembling what they are about–what they are really about.

  15. I couldn’t be prouder of Pax Christi for issuing this letter of support. Our Sisters are in the forefront when it comes to displaying their witness to Christ.

  16. I would like to leave a message of support to the LCWR because the sisters do a social work which most of us lay or even clergy do not do. God bless them! I also support the priesthood for women, since we have lack of clergy and I would rather confess with a woman than with a man.
    Manuela B Anderson
    São Paulo, Brazil

  17. Thank you, Pax Christi, for giving your statement of support . It means very much as westand in solidarity with you and the ones both os us serve.

    Marie Kyle, Franciscan Sister

  18. Statements like this really bother me…”they are tireless advocates for the dignity of human life and the protection of the whole earth community” Really? Why then only sporadically and with a search engine can you uncover articles dealing with abortion? Abortion is the greatest evil of our day and any Catholic women’s group concerned with Justice should be screaming about it, but they are not. Concerning. I know, someone will post but they are against abortion. My point is that one has to dig to find that information while carbon footprints, climate change, economic issues, etc. are all readily accessible and highlighted on their webpage.

  19. Dear Catherine, I am the eleventh child of my parents. Abhor abortion? You bet!
    Indeed – womb (mother and child) AND to tomb. Since Vatican 2 has been a seeming threat to many clerics I read and hear many pronouncements about many aspects of human sexuality. Women religious have always stood with persons who suffer in their very HUMANITY. Let us count the ways: child neglect/abuse, hunger, hatred-greed-war and all violence, homophobia-bullying, silence about injustice, persecution of peace-makers.
    Now I feel weary again! More prayer, fasting and work FOR LIFE in solidarity with my LCWR sisters –

    1. I am happy to hear that you are pro life. However, my question was not addressed. Why, when the greatest attack on human dignity is abortion, can one not easily find a strong statement condemning such on LCWR front page? Other issue stances are readily available, abortion should be at the top.

      1. For you the abortion issue may be top priority, and though I think abortion is abhorent there are many other evils that are being addressed by our Sisters throughout the world. Child abuse, elderly abuse, debilitating poverty and starvation, sex trade that captures, tortures, and litterally enslaves young women. If abortion is your issue, then by all means do what you can to end it, but don’t criticize others that God leads to combat other evils. St. Paul says that we each have our gift and that’s what we must develop to extend the kingdom. Mother Teresa of Calcutta who was a Sister of some note had plenty to say against abortion.
        I find that there are many good people who wish to condemn me for my liberal bias, but when I am standing in front of Planned Parenthood with my sign taking abuse from passers by they are nowhere to be found. There are Sisters there but darn few clergy and I’ve never seen the Bishop there. Don Syriac

  20. Monday, June 18, 2012

    In their protests supporters of the LCWR Sisters have been saying that Vatican Council II has changed every thing.They mean Vatican Council II contradicts the dogma extra ecclesiam nulla salus and so they are into all New Age teachings and even deny the Creed.

    One of the posters of an LCWR supporter says Vatican Council II cannot be changed.They interpret Vatican Council II with an irrational argument. In their religious formation they were taught that those saved in invincible ignorance and the baptism of desire are explicit exceptions to the dogma extra ecclesiam nulla salus.Explicit, known to us ? This is irrational.

    They do not realize that Vatican Council II no where says that those saved in invincible ignorance etc are known to us and so they are explicit exceptions.

    So how can those saved in invincible ignorance, a good conscience,seeds of the Word, imperfect communion with the church etc and who are unknown to us, be an exception to the traditional interpretation of the dogma, which they reject?

    Vatican Council II is a traditional Council if the ‘exceptions’ are considered implicit and not explicit.

    It’s ecclesiology is exclusive ecclesiocentrism. Ad Gentes 7 says there is exclusive salvation in only the Catholic Church and all need Catholic Faith and the baptism of water for salvation (to avoid Hell).AG 7 indicates all New Agers and Protestants need Catholic Faith (which includes the baptism of water) to avoid Hell.This is the message of the dogma extra ecclesiam nulla salus.

    The Sisters are rejecting Vatican Council II (AG 7). Then they assume LG 16 is explicit and not implicit. So they deny AG 7 and the defined dogma extra ecclesiam nulla salus.

    They reject an ex cathedra teaching (Cantate Domino, Council of Florence on extra ecclesiam nulla salus) and are not excommunicated like the OMI priest Fr.Tissa Balasuriya who denied the Immaculate Conception of Our Lady.

    Can the LCWR sisters affirm the literal interpretation of the dogma extra ecclesiam nulla salus, along with implicit baptism of desire and invincible ignorance ?

    Cardinal William Levada, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Vatican has not asked them to acknowledge Vatican Council II in accord with the dogma on exclusive salvation in only the Catholic Church.

    The dogma is in agreement with the Catechism of the Catholic Church as long as it is understood that the baptism of desire etc is always implicit for us and explicit for God.

    The LCWR sisters are rejecting the Letter of the Holy Office 1949 issued during the pontificate of Pope Pius XII which referred to ‘the dogma’, ‘the infallible statement’.

    In principle there can be non Catholics saved in (implicit to us) invincible ignorance and the baptism of desire. De facto, in reality, in the present times there are no known exceptions to everyone needing to convert into the Church for salvation.

    The LCWR needs to clarify its doctrinal position on the thrice defined dogma and Vatican Council II.

    There are religious sisters in Worcester,USA who affirm the literal interpretation of the dogma extra ecclesiam nulla salus and reject explicitly known baptism of desire and invincible ignorance.They affirm Vatican Council II according to Tradition.-Lionel Andrades

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